I absolutely love fighting games!! My earliest arcade memories originated from pumping quarters into Street Fighter II and honing my skills with $18.50 in my pocket in the mall. Throughout the years, everyone finds a routine set of characters they love to use in their respective favorite pugilistic escapades, and I’m no different. Of all the fighting games I’ve played throughout my life thus far, here are the ten that are among my most selected characters!!
#10. Sakura Kasugano (Street Fighter Alpha 3)
This plucky teenager has been probably the best “new character” that I like to play as in the Street Fighter Alpha games, even though she debuted around 1996. Initially, I just took her as a Ryu wanna-be whose rise to immediate fame was her Flower Kick. She appears on “Hottest Gaming Girls” lists, and while she’s cute in a tomboyish way, calling her hot is just plain creepy. She’s 15!! Her move set seemed like a farce, but that became her biggest asset.
It’s easy to stand at on side of the screen and launch Hadoken fireballs all day at jumping beans like Vega, but I loved the fact that her moves were imperfect. It taught me to not take special moves for granted, and while missing an attack can leave you wide open with any given character, you really paid for it with her. Her arching hurricane-styled kick looked completely unorthodox and unwitting opponents can have a hard time deciphering if it’s a mid-range or anti-air attack. The of playing Sakura well is not relying on an abundance of convenient special attacks, but how well you use them. The Alpha series did a great job of diversifying its roster of fighters, and playing as a noob World Warrior with novice attacks was a pretty cool idea.
I’ve also grown to love Sakura through comics in the form of the Street Fighter Sakura Ganbaru! manga and uDON’s Street Fighter Legends Sakura series where she interacts with characters from the Rival Schools series (how did that not catch on?), her rival Karin, and cameos from the signature World Warriors. It’s worth it to witness Ryu talking to her via Instant Messaging.
For a character I never thought I would care much about, she quickly climbed up the ranks of one of the most lovable Capcom characters I’ve become endeared with, both in the fighting games and outside.
#9 Johnny Cage (Mortal Kombat 2)
While everybody else I grew up playing Mortal Kombat with went ballistic when the third installment of the series decided to do away with the palette-swap ninjas (don’t get me wrong, I thought that was a stupid move), I was more rocked to the core that Johnny Cage was left off the roster. I always loved to use Cage, his standard moves looked great, his new attacks were fantastic (I never get tired of nailing people with the Shadow Uppercut, they always forget he has it), his Friendship made that entire concept worth it, and his Torso Rip is my favorite fatality of all MK games
Johnny Cage has been back in a lot of recent games, but now the character seems more of a parody of Linden Ashby’s portrayal from the movie as opposed to being a legit, sincere individual, and by Mortal Kombat 9, it’s gotten out of control. He will always be amusing and good for laughs, but it wouldn’t hurt if I could see just flashes of the badass martial artist that oozes with the right mix of cockiness and confidence without chewing the scenery.
#8 Nina Williams (Tekken Series)
Throughout all the Tekken games, the one other character that I frequent against opponents that love to milk the cheap Mishima and Kazama fighting styles is Nina. I think she has the a pretty diverse skill set, combing a lot of high and mid range attacks that thwart the constant side stepping and dashing that the Mishima/Kazama martial arts is based around.
The Femme Fatale is also the strongest lady in the Tekken series, one of the few characters early in the series to have counter moves, her standing strikes lead to lots of knock-downs to kill your opponents momentum, she has quite a few guard-breaking attacks, her long legs give her great range, and her chain throws are nearly as punishing as King’s. Add in that lately, her character model is starting to resemble Sarah Bryant from the Virtua Fighter series, which I am completely okay with.
#7 Steve Fox (Tekken 4 & 6)
Steve Fox was a breath of fresh air for me. After three installments and a really addictive Tag Tournament spinoff, Tekken finally added something I had been desperately wishing for; a character with a unique fighting style!!!! With a roster that is mostly composed of palette swaps disguised as “unlockable characters” with slightly modified attacks, it finally felt good to play as someone completely different. His variation attacks and combo links, lead-ins, and chains were unlike anything the remainder of the cast had to offer at the time, and by Tekken 6, his boxing has been refined to near perfection.
I think he’s the smartest character in the game, with his combination of speed and agility, it’s easy to dismantle Tekken dinosaurs like Paul Phoenix and the even more watered down Bryan Fury, who seems to get weaker every game. His weaving and ducking can be way more confusing than Christie and Eddy’s capoeira (do they both really need to be in the game at this point anyway?), which takes too long to set up an offense if your opponent stays in close. Some of the newer characters have gotten better, with some thought clearly put into them, and I hope this trend continues to add some much-needed life into a fighting game engine that is as old as the crumbs in Heihachi’s mustache.
#6 Sauron (Primal Rage)
Sauron (and Primal Rage in general) was the closest I ever got to playing a giant monster melee as a kid, since there were no Godzilla games. There were ports of the Neo Geo arcade game King of The Monsters, but that didn’t feel like a real fighting game. Sauron may not be the all-around ass kicker as Blizzard, nor did he have the keep away tactics of Armadon, but Sauron was SHEAR BRUTE POWER!!! Seriously, this dino-god played like Jax from Mortal Kombat. They both had ground pounds, both did massive damage in close quarters with powerful throws, and they both could air throw.
Yeah, you can Air Throw with essentially a T Rex!! What other fighting game would let you do that!!? If I spearheaded the campaign to ensure that Primal Rage got a legitimate sequel, this would be first case example to Infogrames. I can picture that meeting:
Head Director of Infogrames: So, you have this petition, signed only by you and several names that appear to be false, asking us to create a sequel to a 19-year-old obscure fighting game because……?
Colonelfancy: Because you can Air Throw people with a goddamn dinosaur!!!
Not to throw a lot of hyperbole around in this post, but I also thought that Primal Rage’s best fatalities were better than most MK ones. The fact that primitive beasts, granted they were gods, were performing these acts as opposed to Kano turning into a horrible spider effect, made some of Rage’s finishers more gruesome to me. For instance, Sauron’s second Fatality, after his opponent dies, he stands over them, roars triumphantly, and proceeds to eat!!
#5 King (The KOF Series)
Now, while I could easily discuss strategy and tactics with the other characters I chosen for this list, I can’t mince words with King. She is the biggest KOF cheeseball that isn’t a boss character!! SNKPlaymore has been trying for years to balance her move list, but every new KOF game, King can be exploited to cause massive damage every single time!! She has two moves that I abuse maliciously. One is her Double Venom Strike, a move so blatantly cheap, it was a Desperation Move in ’13. In earlier games, it was either an enhanced special or it just required an extra quarter circle motion. Bad enough that her Venom Strike is one of the fastest projectiles in the game, but she can launch TWO!!? Good luck stopping that!! Second is Surprise Rose, another basic special-turned-Desparation Move, because it’s too strong
It’s a sick, immediate 15 hit combo that acts as both a counter, and a throw! In previous KOF games, this attack was absolutely devastating, and more when enhanced!! Now, normally, I would be against a broken character that you can run the table with in this manner. Using a character that requires little skill and just plowing through opponents to the point that nobody wants to play with you is a code I am against in fighting games. So why do I place a character as such so high on my list? Because after nearly twenty years of KOF’s boss characters flattening me in seconds with crappy unblockables, an onslaught of guard-crushing attacks, full screen projectiles that do more damage if you block them, super meters that build up when the announcer yells “FIGHT!!”, the fact that I can’t jump anywhere near them without being struck down with an anti-air attack which literally zero frames of animation, and hearing their stupid taunts three times in one fight, I’m glad they gave me a character as cheap as King to annihilate them with!! She is the only character I can beat those Godforsaken monstrosities without using the post fight bonuses that they offer to you! It’s like your dad buying you a bike because he knew the last beating he gave you was too far! Don’t patronize me SNKPlaymore, just tone down your f*cking bosses so I don’t have a psychotic episode in the next game!!!
#4 Rachel Alucard (The Blazblue Series)
Rachel is a blast to use in what I think is the best new fighting game of the modern-day. She has some deadly Infinity combos (granted, I kind of suck at pulling most of her chains in the heat of combat), and her array of special attack utilizing her abused subjects, Nago and Gii.
Playing against Rachel is the equivalent of moving on a mine field, you can see her moves coming, but you don’t know when they are destined to hit you. She can be a great keep away player, and her George XIII can be forgotten about very easily. The immediate damage she deals may not seem like much, but it doesn’t take long to accumulate how much she can do. What hurts the most is that an effective Rachel player will dictate the pace of the battle and you almost have to play by her rules. Approach too fast, and her low attacks will trip you up. Play too defensively, and you could get picked apart with lightning attacks. As opposed to Jin, whose stupid ass ice attacks are just annoying and he can just keep launching them nonstop.
The Red Cyclone is my most selected Capcom character of all time. People I played with avoided him like the plague on the Character Select screen. Something about rotating the D-pad 360 degrees was apparently a hard concept in 1992, but when I first learned his 360 Piledriver, I was unstoppable!! As years went on, ‘Gief (as I affectionately call him) would only get more powerful! His Banishing Flat was the magic elixir to fix his problem with projectiles, and by Super Street Fighter II Turbo, he was given an added dashing animation to his Russian Suplex. I always loved that, as soon as Zangief put his hands up and charged, my opponents knew what was coming. They would scream “Oh Shit!!”, but it was too late and they were getting thrown across the screen with reckless abandon!
The Final Atomic Buster is one the most satisfying Super Moves since the beginning of the concept, because when your life bar is flashing red and ‘Gief grabs you, you have no choice but to watch him throw you around until he’s done!! No escape, no parry attacks, no hope!!
#2 Terry Bogard (The Fatal Fury Series)
Terry Bogard is the coolest main character in fighting game history. With his laid back attitude, the trucker cap, and his memorable catchphrases spoken in broken English (*LIVEWIRE!!*), he’s SNK’s most recognizable personality, and his signature look is best of any other fighting game lead character. From the ponytail to the big, white star on the red of the bright red denim vest, you’ll know Terry when you see him!!
Unlike most main characters, whose moves and skill set are based around an “average” level, ensuring that they aren’t too strong, and staying adaptable for new users (not that Terry is all that complicated), the Wolf’s focus is power. Terry is defines hard-hitting, after the KOF series, where he goes toe-to-toe with other flat-out, smash-mouth brawlers like Ralph Jones, but in the Fatal Fury games, he’s a real bruiser. His Power Geyser looks more amazing as visuals get better, and is a great anti-air striker.
Different forms of media have tried to portray Terry as something he isn’t, like the live action KOF movie, where he’s a damn C.I.A. agent (Which makes me laugh, picturing Terry as an Interpol agent.), or Fatal Fury: The Motion Picture (Oh, your day is coming soon), where he’s a moping, emo git, feeling sad over the loss of his girlfriend…and by that, I mean that Blue Mary was never featured in all three OAVs. I’ll tackle those in greater detail later, I address them because the Terry Bogard in those movies is not the Hungry Wolf from the video games, settling, instead on a personality that’s more suited for Batman!! If it’s playing basketball, eating hotdogs, or catching a nap in the afternoon, keep your receipt, because that isn’t Terry Bogard!!
And My Number One Favorite Fighting Game Character…
AKIRA YUKI ( THE VIRTUA FIGHTER SERIES)
The Virtua Fighter series is to 3-D fighters what Street Fighter II is to 2-D fighters. It boasts great physics, fluid animation, awesome music, and is the last fighting game on the planet that makes me feel like I’m still standing in front of an arcade booth. From that series comes the grand master of video game martial artists, Akira. He may not look spectacular from a presentation standpoint right from the get go, like Scorpion or the DOA girls, and it would be easy to dismiss him as a Ryu clone, but let me tell you; if you master this guy’s fighting style, you can consider yourself the grand champion video game master. If you simply pick up the controller and attempt to mash buttons with Akira, you’ll lose, and you’ll lose bad. And that is the main reason why I love to use this character so much. Not to discredit any of the other martial artists in this game, but Akira is the smartest fighter ever created, and to truly know how to use him effectively takes time, diligence, patience, and practice, much like the character himself. He has a deadly arsenal of attacks, can counter from every conceivable angle, and has great power to boot. But you must know when and how to use these moves. Akira is not the fastest character in the game, in fact, some of his attack can be telegraphed very easily. I have been playing as Akira ever since I was a child and the day Virtua Fighter 2 was released for the Sega Saturn was one of the happiest days in my youth, because now I had the luxury of practicing his techniques from the comfort of my own home. But with each Virtua Fighter game, Akira wasn’t finished.
Like a true student of his art, he looks for ways to improve his strengths and mitigate his weaknesses, and he comes back a little more refined and a little more deadly. By Virtua Fighter 5, he’s nearly indestructible and I’ve been running the gauntlet for a couple of years now! If a Virtua Fighter 6 was ever made, I can only imagine what AM2 would have in store for the Hakkyoku-ken expert. Akira is the true World Warrior, not Ryu, whose been travelling the globe for over 17 years and hasn’t changed much. Akira has only gotten better with each Virtua Fighter game, altering his style to keep up with any newcomers that challenge him.
This video isn’t mine. Credit to ftgworld